Saturday, July 14, 2007

Nihowera's Mid-winter Christmas Feast 2007 - Christmas Pudding and Other Treats

Nihowera, contributed to by Bron and Emma, is hosting a Mid-winter Christmas Feast. I love Christmas and the festivities associated with it, so an opportunity to experience Christmas twice in one year is too good to miss!

I absolutely adore Christmas pudding, with its rich fruity taste, accompanied by lashings of custard and cream - even when it is a typical Aussie Christmas Day and it is 30 degrees Celsius outside! Given it is so cold in Melbourne in winter, Christmas in July is a much more appropriate time to eat Christmas pudding. Accordingly, for my contribution to the Nihowera mid-winter Christmas feast, I have chosen my adaptation of Nigella's Non-Conformist Christmas pudding, from p69 of Feast. I made this pudding in November last year, but this is its first public appearance.

The recipe, with my adaptations, is as follows:

300g dried figs, chopped
125g dried cherries, chopped
100g dried apricots, chopped
100g sultanas
100ml amaretto
50ml brandy
175g unsalted butter, chopped into cubes
100g fresh breadcrumbs
100g almond meal
50g cocoa
100g plain flour
1 tspn baking powder
1/ tspn bicarbonate of soda
150g brown sugar
2 apples, grated
3 eggs
150ml carton sour cream
1 tbspn vanilla extract
1 tspn cinnamon

Grease a pudding basin. Put the dried fruit in a saucepan with the amaretto and brandy and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Put butter cubes on top of the fruit and simmer for a further 10 minutes. (Note - watch the fruit and stir it often - I let my fruit burn slightly onto the saucepan, which luckily had no ill effects on the taste of the pudding, but made my cleaning up job a lot harder!)

Combine the breadcrumbs, almond meal, cocoa, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and sugar in a bowl. Add the apples and the dried fruit mixture and mix well.

In another bowl, beat together the eggs, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon until smooth. Pour into the fruit and flour mixture and mix well. Pour the pudding batter into the pudding basin, firmly secure the lid, and steam for 4 hours in a large saucepan of boiling water. (I managed to steam a number of self-adhesive wall hooks off the walls of my flat in the process!!) Check the water levels in the saucepan every half an hour or so to be sure that the pudding doesn't boil dry, and top up as necessary. However, ensure that you don't get water into the pudding - the water should come no further than half way up the sides of the pudding basin.

Take the pudding out of the saucepan and leave to cool and set in the pudding basin overnight. Unmould the cooled pudding, wrap in greaseproof paper and cling film, and store in the refrigerator until required. Leave the pudding flavours to mature for a few days or weeks before serving. When ready to serve the pudding, either resteam it for 1 1/2 hours, or (the easier option!) cut off slices and heat up in the microwave on high for approximately one minute. Serve warm with custard, cream and icecream.

Although she calls it a "non-conformist" Christmas pudding, Nigella does so because she has used non-traditional ingredients like cocoa, sour cream and almond meal in the pudding. It is not a reference to the taste, as it tastes as rich and comforting as any other Christmas pudding that I have tried, and is miles better than a store-bought pudding.

To finish off my contribution to Nihowera's Christmas Mid-winter Feast, I couldn't resist posting a photo of the Christmas treats that I made for work last Christmas. The photo features sugar cookies that have been coated in chocolate or icing, apricot balls, rum balls and miniature Christmas puddings.

Meri Kirihimete in July everyone!


Emma said...

What a handsom pudding! Thanks for contributing it to our feast. I completely agree - Winter is the best time for Christmas pudding. Very cute biscuits, I bet you made your workmates very happy. Look for a round up on this weekend.

Cakelaw said...

Thanks Emma! Your pudding looks delicious too. Thanks to you and Bron for organising this mid-winter feast - can't wait until Christmas comes again in December!